Dealing with a narrow block can be a challenge. But, as with any challenge, creative thinking can produce incredible results. If you've got a narrow block and you're scratching your head wondering how to make it all work, here are some ideas to make your narrow block feel less restrictive.
1. Natural light
Natural light is the solution to most housing ills. Finding ways to bring natural light into your narrow block will make it feel larger and you happier, even if you're never more than 3 metres away from a wall.
Skylights work well, as DX Architects demonstrate in their Burnley Renovation, especially as narrow blocks are typically hemmed in by buildings on both sides.
Clerestory windows are also a winner, helping to grab north light when you're not lucky enough to have a north-facing backyard like this Elsternwick terrace.
For light, breezes and circulation, courtyards can work wonders on narrow blocks. A central courtyard can bring light and breezes into the centre of the home, which would otherwise be dark and stuffy. Here in Port Melbourne, the architects have included a central courtyard to separate the original home from a new, light-filled addition. The courtyard acts as a light well for the double-storey addition and maximises cross-flow ventilation.
3. Full-width windows and doors
When you're constrained in one direction, you can compensate in the other direction. A full-width window/door opening onto the garden maximises the sense of space, extending your home to the rear boundary. Make a feature out of it, like this incredible, pivoting door by Marston Architects, and you can guarantee no one will be stopping to think about what your home lacks in width.
4. High Ceilings/Double-height spaces
And don't forget the other dimension either. Giving a sense of volume to your home with high ceilings or even a double-height space can take the focus off what you're lacking in width. At just 3.6 metres wide, this Freshwater home sure is skinny, but a double-height space helps it feel much more generously proportioned.
5. Blurring inside and out
Sometimes boundaries need to be broken. Or, at least blurred. Similar to opening up the full width of your block with windows and doors, blurring the line between inside and out can help to create the illusion your home takes up the whole block, extending it into the rear garden. Benn & Penna Architects successfully blur the boundaries at this Surry Hills home by extending the kitchen bench outside and using the same materials inside and out. Their other trick? Using a reflective white tile which bounces natural light back into the home.